January 25th. That day may not mean a lot many, but it is one that often causes me to reflect. On this date years ago, my mom called 911 because she couldn’t get my Grandaddy out of bed. I may have been just an elementary school kid, but I knew that tone in my mom’s voice. Something was very wrong. The paramedics came, and I watched strangers wheel my Grandaddy out of the house on a stretcher that cold winter morning.
Why share such a morbid memory? A fair question. Certain dates and memories don’t ever leave me, and that particular day holds sad details, ones I don’t think I will ever quite forget. But the memory of this day also carries timeless hope.
I don’t remember many conversations I had with my Grandaddy. His hard-hearted military demeanor did not encourage a strong bond, and I knew he hadn’t made life easy for my mom or Grandma growing up. What I do remember is how we prayed for him. My parents often asked God to soften his heart. The words became such a normal part of our prayers; I stopped expecting an answer. Still, I attempted to befriend this man that still intimidated me, at least a little bit.
Towards the last few years of their lives, my grandparents lived with us. And I used to sit with my Grandaddy for hours, watching anything he wanted. I became familiar with Matlock and MacGyver, and Wheel of Fortune. But oddly enough, my favorite tradition came on Sunday nights. Together we watched bull riding. I highly doubt anyone to this day would describe me as a country cowgirl, but I genuinely enjoyed sitting in the anticipation with him. Sometimes I got so nervous for the riders or even the clowns (I was convinced they had the scariest job) that I often hid my face behind a pillow, but I loved it. I loved watching those with him. We bonded over men risking their lives riding giant beasts—who would have thought? But I guess a lot can be said for simply sitting with someone.
About six months before he passed, he had an important car ride with my dad. He had been studying the Bible with my dad, a surprise to us all. He even got a Bible with those GIANT letters (which made way more sense to me as a kid than the tiny print versions). My dad explained how Christ became our sin-bearer on the cross. Suddenly, Grandaddy said, “That’s what I want. I want Christ to bear my sins.” And with that one statement, God answered the prayers of decades. My Grandaddy gave his life to Christ.
As young as I was, I remembered small changes, like the one day he gave me a small, side hug. My face no doubt showed my surprise. He cared a little more, showed a little more kindness, and those are details that stick with me too.
His life may not have been a prime example of how to live, but his memory often reminds me not to give up praying for that someone or something year after year (trust me, there are plenty of days when I want to). When all hope seems lost, when circumstances appear pointless, God is working beneath and beyond what I can see (Eph.3:20). That doesn’t necessarily mean all prayers will be answered the way I desire, and decades may still go by with the same echoed prayers. Yet each one is precious to the Father.
So many days, especially on January 25th, I wear my Grandaddy’s dog tag in remembrance of God’s attentive ear to old petitions. No prayer is ever too worn out to keep bringing to Him.
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. Ephesians 4:6